With the world plunged into uncertainty over the coronavirus, one of the most unsettling things is not really knowing how long the present situation will last. Uncertainty is one of the hardest things we find to cope with. We like to plan, to feel in control, to be able to map out where we are going. The current advice to distance ourselves from others and the disruption to normal routines leave us adrift on a sea of uncertainty.
‘How long is this going to go on for? How long will it be like this?’ we ask. We have been told so many different things – self-isolate for seven days, for fourteen days, for twelve weeks – and now see events being cancelled as far ahead as May and June that we feel a numbing sense of disorientation.
The question ‘How long?‘ is found on the lips of the psalmists on many occasions (see Ps 6:3, Ps 13:1-2, Ps 74:10, Ps 79:5, Ps 89:45, Ps 119:84). The psalms walk us through disorientation, doubt and despair with honesty, courage and hope. I’m not sure the question ‘How long?’ is ever answered in these psalms, but each time there is a transition away from despair and helplessness as the psalmist chooses to trust God in the midst of the uncertainty and fear.
This is our choice too. We probably won’t know ‘how long’ the present situation will last – even medical experts and government ministers don’t really know. We don’t know how long until ‘normal life’ can resume. We don’t know how long before travel can be restored. But we do know God is with us, never leaving us or forsaking us and therefore we can choose to trust Him and to live one day at a time.